I don’t know what your TV habits are, but I’m going to go out on a limb and assume you’ve seen this Apple commercial where a dad is filming his daughter in Romeo and Juliet. If you live under a rock, here’s a link. I’ll wait.
Back? Cool. Because I’m about to explain why this is straight up the worst commercial to ever be produced. And yeah, I know I’m just giving Apple more publicity for this abomination but I honestly don’t care. I’m typing this on an Apple computer while I listen to music via iTunes with my iPhone on the table next to me so yeah, they already own me. Who cares.
Let us begin with the audience: Romeo and Juliet is wildly inappropriate material to be performed by children this age. In case you don’t remember, two preteens fall in love and kill 6 people, including themselves. So yeah, not really suitable for 8 year olds. Also it’s a shit play anyway. If you want your little gremlins performing Shakespeare and you don’t care how inappropriate it is (as we’ve already established is the case), go all the way and pull out Macbeth. Yeah, the body count is like twice as high and there’s witches, but go big or go home. Hell, go with Hamlet. It may be disturbing to watch a chubby little 5th grader contemplate the merits of suicide, but it’s equally disturbing to watch a little girl literally stab herself in the chest because a guy she knew for like 8 days killed himself. Although that’s working on the assumption that this garbage production has any intention of following the original script, which is a faulty presumption to make.
If you’re like me and only read Romeo and Juliet in your freshman English class, you are forgiven for not remembering every detail of the play. I, however, have spent the ensuing years of my life bitching about it, and since I value nothing more than factually accurate complaints I will remind you of the context of the notorious “Wherefore art thou Romeo?” soliloquy sort of featured in this commercial. In the original drama, Juliet is alone on her balcony after her bedtime thinking aloud– not, as the commercial suggests, looking for Romeo after some other toddler tipped her off. Contrary to popular belief, she is not asking where Romeo is, but rather why. “Wherefore” is an obnoxiously misleading word (which is admittedly par for the course regarding Shakespeare) that asks “why,” not “where.” The gist of the monologue is that if he had any other name besides Romeo Montague she could marry him because then her family wouldn’t hate him. Romeo, meanwhile, came to see her but decided to hide and eavesdrop on Juliet’s soliloquy, so when he does reveal himself Juliet is shocked and embarrassed that he overheard her private thoughts. This was evidently lost on the creators of this commercial, or if it wasn’t they should be charged with gross negligence, since they completely massacred the original scene. I understand cutting things to fit into a tiny time frame, but not if you have to alter the entire meaning of the passage. If you can’t make a script work with your stupid commercial without tweaking it, don’t use that play. ESPECIALLY WHEN IT’S ALREADY A TERRIBLE PLAY TO BEGIN WITH.
I think I’ve made it very clear over the course of writing this blog that I have a lot of issues with Shakespeare. I genuinely hate a lot of what he wrote, but I can appreciate the good stuff and even find some value in the bad writing. Romeo and Juliet, however, is irredeemable in my eyes. And I think Billy Shakes and I would agree on one thing at least, which is that this Apple commercial is an abomination and whoever created it should be fired immediately.